AK Steel Holding Corporation AKS has inaugurated a world-class Research and Innovation Center in Middletown, OH. This $36 million state-of-the-art facility is built on 16-acres land near AK Steel's Middletown Works and its West Chester headquarters.
The new center features state-of-the-art laboratories and pilot steelmaking facilities. The center houses 17 prototype laboratories, 17 analytical laboratories and 22 collaborative spaces for employees, customers and suppliers. With the opening of this research center, the company intends to emerge as a leading innovator in carbon, stainless and electrical steels products.
The facility enhances AK Steel ability to deliver new steel products including next-generation advanced high strength carbon and specialty steels. This will enable automotive customers to not only design lighter, more fuel-efficient vehicles that maintain superior strength and safety performance.
Additionally, the facility will produce electrical steels that will make the nation's electricity grid more energy-efficient and perform better in hybrid and electric vehicles’ motors. The company will also be able to manufacture new stainless steels that offer superior corrosion resistance for a wide variety of applications.
AK Steel's shares rallied 61.2% over the past six months, outperforming the Zacks categorized Steel-Producers industry’s gain of about 25.5%.
AK Steel remains committed to reduce cost amid a persistent challenging operating environment. The company remains on track with its cost cutting initiatives in 2017 through process improvement, headcount cuts, reduction in process time and procurement activities.
AK Steel is also likely to benefit from the strong momentum in the automotive market. The company expects to expand its core automotive business further in 2017.
However, the company continues to face a challenging macroeconomic environment and weakness in the electrical steel market. It is also exposed to volatility in raw material and steel pricing.